Is it moral to kill an innocent person who is actively threatening you?


Yes, that’s true. But that’s not what he said in a previous post about instructions given to his armored car friend.
That was completely impossible.


This was the original post.

Impossible. And downright dangerous to tell an employee.


It seems an unlikely piece of advice. One wonders if some legal questions of liability are involved? Are police indemnified to a degree that security guards are not??


I’m not a police officer but I do some work for my friend who owns a security company. We are armed on some sites. Most armed guards are ex military or police.
Actually I’m armed more when I’m NOT working. In the summer, I might work weddings on the weekends, not armed.
Working at a bank however. Armed. And our instructions are clear.

I’m sure legally there is huge risk if s guard is killed.
Most armed sites, government buildings banks etc would protect the gaurd by the fact of being a bank or other government building. When I worked in the grocery business lifetimes ago a store would register as a US postal office annex because of the protection it offered employees from robbery. Same thing with putting a bank in a store.


This was interesting.
A few posts down a guy who used to drive answers.


That seems wrong to me, I guess it depends on how they define ‘an attack’ though…

If someone ran up to them waving a gun with the intent to actually kill the guard, I could see them shooting to kill, but if a person is just attempting to steal the money, imo that is not enough to shoot someone, that would be putting the cash above someones life.

In our stores, we tell our employees in case of armed robbery, just give them the money, period.

the person doing this does not have the intent to kill the guard, they want the money.


Of course in a store where the unarmed workers are they should give up money or goods. Heck, long gone are the days of even chasing shoplifters. That’s more because of lawsuits though.
Actually armored car companies mostly discourage or ban lethal force to defend property. But those guns aren’t only for show ( though that does help as a deterrent) if a situation where guns are deployed you can bet nobody is shooting without lethal intent.


If you’re talking solely about the US then the consensus would be yes…the moral here in the US is…“the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”…the moral for the rest of the civilized world would be…“if the bad guy didn’t have a gun in the first place then the good guy wouldn’t need one”…I’m sure the Catholic church would see the latter as the more moral.


I’m far from a 2nd Amendment absolutist but this has little to do with the OP. Last I checked “bad guys” do not all rely on guns, some attack with swords, knives, axes, machetes, trucks, cars…some are even capable of killing using their bare hands. Especially those who are under the influence of certain drugs, psychotic, etc.

Are you suggesting the civilized world should ban all forms of weapons, ban all motorized vehicles, and ban…well I guess you can’t ban the use of bare hands, can you?

Indeed, last I checked guns hadn’t even been invented in the time of Jesus.

So assuming you are wherever in the “civilized world” there is no access to guns. And a psychotic delusional person who thinks you are a Martian out to get him, attacks you with, say, a carving knife. What do you do? Let him stab you to death while lamenting the lack of adequate knife control laws?


Historically speaking that is not accurate. And “the civilized” would be a very elitist and inaccurate term as well.


In much of the world, there is a view that widespread and easy availability of guns is not a good thing.


I realize that but the underlying principles behind the moral justifications for using lethal actions for self defense, has nothing to do with the availability of guns. I do not want to see this topic turned into yet another gun control debate.


The defender may shoot until the attacker either leaves or is “neutralized”.

In a civil * situation, you may not chase the perpetrator down to finish him off.

A police officer may chase a suspect and if the situation changes into a shoot-out, then good luck to the officer and too bad for the perp.

However, the defender is NOT a legal executioner.

This is a Catholic forum. Intending to kill someone is a mortal sin. Defending yourself, even if it results in the death of the attacker, is not any sin at all.

For an action to be a mortal sin, THREE conditions MUST be present:

  1. It must be serious.

  2. You must know it is serious.

  3. You must do it deliberately.

Not intending to kill someone causes #3 to not be present.

Deliberately killing someone does cause #3 to be present.

Firing an entire magazine in one moment does not cause an intention to kill … only to neutralize. If they all impact the attacker’s head or heart [problematical if the person is wearing a vest … and the head is a very small target], then good shooting. But once the person is “down”, you are not allowed to “finish him off” … i.e., deliberately kill the attacker.

You are not a legal executioner.

A gun is not lethal of itself. The lethality depends on where the gunshots hit. Once the attacker is down and not moving, then the defender is no longer allowed to shoot.

In a military combat situation, the situation may be totally different. If an unarmed person is planting an IED, then you shoot him or her. However we have rules of engagement that in some cases do not allow the shooting of a terrorist unless the person is directly pointing a gun at you; if he puts the gun down, you cannot shoot. [If you are in a firefight, you shoot until the enemy is dead. Current rules of engagement do not permit that. You need a lawyer to interpret the “applicable rules”.]

A military sniper goes for the kill.

Sometimes, an enemy’s body may be booby trapped to kill rescuers.

Planting a booby trap in a military combat environment is perfectly fine.

Sometimes someone who is planting an IED may be killed by a sniper shooting the IED itself.

Combat is different from civil policing or being an armed guard.*


In May of 2009, Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Ersland was at work when two teenagers came in to rob his store. What happens is caught on the surveillance video below

  1. Two teens burst into the store, one of them waving a gun.
  2. Ersland shoots at them. The one with the gun runs out the door; the other is hit and falls.
  3. Ersland exits the store in pursuit of the fleeing robber. Failing to catch him, he comes back into the store.
  4. Ersland walks back behind the counter and retrieves a second gun.
  5. Ersland walks back to where the fallen robber is, leans down, and shoots him multiple times, killing him.

Ersland was found guilty of first-degree murder. He faces life in prison. The case has divided public opinion along perfectly predictable lines. So we’re just going to leave that set of facts right there, and you can all say what you think.

YouTube - ‪Raw Video: Pharmacist Kills Would-be Teen Robber‬‏


Good, that was definitely first degree murder.

Its pretty obvious the 2 robbers were wanting either drugs or money, their intent was not on killing or harming the man behind the counter, they did not have some personal vendetta against the guy or target this store due to him working there.

Killing someone over cash, drugs, property, puts the persons life below the value of the property stolen, Im sorry, but ANY human beings life is worth more than a armored car full of money, or store full of drugs.

If he had just given them the money/drugs, they would have left the store and left him unharmed, the insurance company would have covered his monetary loss too…I bet he will regret that decision every day when he wakes up in prison.


Pretty clear that 3,4,5 makes it murder. I’d convict.


Whenever you ask the question “Is it moral…”, you start by identifying what the good at hand is and orient your evaluation to that.

If you can’t identify the good at hand, you end up going in moral circles. :wink:
just makin an observation…


You are most like correct in saying “the 2 robbers were wanting either drugs or money” but you are totally wrong about them not intending to kill or harm the man behind the counter. I am quite the 2 robbers would have killed the man behind the counter for the smallest reasons to include not handing over the drugs/cash fast enough.


The use of lethal force is justified by the threat of a gun, not the value of goods.


I’m always surprised when I have to walk people through this because the logic is not convoluted at all. But perhaps that’s because I’ve been walked through it a time or two.

  1. the appearance of criminals with a drawn weapon provides moral and legal reason to use lethal force. The store owner may fire to stop the threat. The threat is not the theft but the gun the criminals have.

2). We have to talk a little about shooting. Anytime I fire at someone its intent is to be lethal. You fire into a person. Most likely they will die. This is moral.
Most likely the thieves are hyped up on something and they threaten the man. He can empty a gun center mass morally and legally, until the threat subsides.
3. Here is where it becomes a crime and immoral. You cannot chase or further punish a fleeing or wounded person. Because here it leaves self defense and becomes revenge or punishment. These are immoral reasons to kill someone.
The rest are a description of an immoral act.

Here are some things to consider. Firing even a single shot in 1 or 2 is lethal intent. And it should/has to be.
Pointing a gun at someone and firing will most likely mean a death. And that should be the intent.

I think even though you probably would not carry you might benifit from a self defense or firearms class. Not only is the information important, it can help you follow logical and universal moral principles that are quite parallel to our Catholic faith.

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